Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beta Cycle for Acuity Brands Lighting Revit Families

From the new Acuity Brands Lighting BIM blog:

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve released version 1.0 of the ABL 3D Models. Visit the download page to select either the Revit family files or the DWG files.

The starter set contains about 50 models and covers a cross-section of our most popular products. We’ve provided the models as Revit family files and as generic 3D DWG models. Each model contains data about the product, including photometric data, links to spec sheets, and optical and electrical information.

We view this release as a beta version. Please let us know what you think of them, and how we can make our models even more useful to your efforts. We plan to regularly update this set and release additional models. To get the latest news, subscribe to our news feed.

You can leave general comments by filling out the comments form, or send comments, suggestions and improvement ideas to

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dept. of Quirky - Using Group Bar vs. Scrolling

If you like video I posted an example of this as well.

When you take a look at the properties of any element in Revit you are presented with parameters organized into Groups, the blue (at least in my Windows config) bar above parameters. This blue bar is one the "sneaky buttons" as I call them.

Clicking at any point along the blue bar will contract or expand the list of parameters. Okay you know that here's the point.

You'll find that if you use a combination of the scroll bar AND the Groups that at times Revit will be unable to display all of the parameters toward the bottom of the list. This is particularly true of the Family Editor > Family Types dialog where I seem to spend a fair bit of time. In order to see them you'll have to expand all the Groups and then use the Scroll Bar.

I the Dept. of Subtle or Quirky?...Quirky won but it's a toss up!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Duct Size Parameter - Inches - Revit MEP

If you used AutoCAD before using Revit you likely went through a bit of withdrawal from using inches as a base drawing unit. With Revit you had to get used to typing 0 space 6 for 0'-6" or 0 dash 6. Well in Revit MEP there is one instance at least where you get to enter relevant values when working through your design.

First if you are interested I posted a little video overview of this subject. Otherwise read on...

I am referring to the duct size parameters as the title suggests. In the Family Editor > Family Types dialog we can choose to Add Parameters to our family. Aside from providing a clever name we also can choose the Discipline > HVAC which in turn offers quite a few choices for "Type of Parameter".

When you choose Type of Parameter: Duct Size, Revit will require you to enter values in inches, which is easier since most duct sizes are referred to by their size in inches.

There's a catch though if you like to add parameters by using the Associate Family Parameter "sneaky button" in the properties of elements in the Family Editor.

This route precludes the use of the HVAC Discipline, Type of Parameter choices as it defaults to common and its subset of Types of Parameters. Not FAIR I say! I'm sure it is just an oversight!

To use it you need to start with Family Types > then Add Parameter. Then you can Associate the family parameter with the Element's parameter.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pipe Materials

A fairly common comment from someone using the Piping/Plumbing features in Revit MEP is, "Where is Cast Iron?" Fair enough! Where is it? It ain't there! Getting it there is a matter of editing the Pipe Sizes.xml file (default location: C:\Program Files\Revit MEP 2008\Program). At least that's true for past versions. The information is now embedded in Revit MEP 2009 and accessible from a dialog found under Settings menu > Mechanical Settings. This is the dialog you get:

You click on "Sizes" at the bottom left of the dialog and you get the information displayed on the right side. You can now add Material, Connection, Schedule/Type as well as Sizes. Using the check boxes offered, you can filter the list of sizes so only appropriate ones will be offered to you when you use specific types of pipe. You also use this to allow RME to use the size when calculating "sizing" for you.

Keep in mind that the Project Units of your project will affect the pipe sizes displayed on the Options Bar too. You adjust this via Settings menu > Project Units and then choose Piping for Discipline. Like this:

Similarly Wires Sizes and Duct Sizes are embedded within RME.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Separate Checks Please - Off Topic "ish"

As a consultant I travel a bit. I have 150,000 miles on one airline perhaps more than a bit. I eat in a fair number of restaurants because I have to. I know, poor Steve...he HAS to eat in a restaurant all the time, poor baby. Well if you want to lose the 10 or so pounds that I gained a couple of years ago and they just won't go away no matter how hard I don't diet or exercise you'll understand.

Where am I going with this?

Traveling and eating alone can be a bit like the movie trailer for "Getting Over Sarah Marshall". The one where the poor sap is dining alone and the waiter makes a big point of it, Dining ALONE!!??!! Table for ONE!! And in "P.S. I love You" a big scene of removing the extra flatware and dishes when the guy gets up and leaves the girl at the table. Yeah I see movies on the plane that I probably wouldn't see by myself normally. And eyes welled up a couple times during P.S. I Love You"...softy! But I was really careful to pretend there was something in my eye so I don't think I was busted.

Where am I going with this?

Tonight I was sitting in a nice pub in Chicago, Miller's Pub. They have a great chicken pot pie (thanks David! for the recommendation) that is only available during lunch unless they have a couple left over and the last two times I've been here...they did...which means I got one. You have to know to ask because the menu says only available for lunch. Kind of like the family editor! It's a secret!

Where am I going with this?

Sooo I overheard the waiter tell a table of two behind me that it is the policy of the restaurant to not split checks, sorry...then he caved and said that since he wasn't really that busy yet he'd do it. It made me think about the service industry in general and why a restaurant would make a customer care about what is inconvenient for the waiter. Seems to me a restaurant is all about making food and pleasure easy for its customers, not burdening them with well it isn't convenient for us to do "that"... I'm not blasting Miller's, they are entitled to make their policies and choose to enforce them or not. It just seems to me that it can be a negative experience, however slight, in what could be an otherwise excellent night out for people.

Where am I going with this?

So what kind of negative experiences are we casting out to our clients based on our choice of Revit as a software or platform? How are we marketing that to them? Are we burdening them with "Revitese" or "BIMese"? Do they care what software we use? Well some do and some don't.

As my friend Wayne used to say to me when we'd have the proverbial Rev/auto/station talk,(paraphrasing) "Steve, if you are cutting my grass I don't care whether you use scissors or a $10,000 tractor as long as you get it done in the time you promised and for the price you why do I care what software you use?" Now Wayne enjoys playing point - counter point and his firm is a full fledged Revit capable design firm with an office in NY and NC, so no worries there.

I suppose we have to gauge what our clients appetite might be for this sort of knowledge? Then tell the ones who care and don't burden those who don't. Bottom line? "We" sell knowledge and expertise. We know how to get them the building they need and we happen to use some really great software to do it too. Just try to make sure the experience your clients leave with is a positive one! Don't make them remember you for being inflexible about splitting the check.

So there was where I was going, glad I finally got there!

Btw, I wholeheartedly recommend the chicken pot pie at Miller's Pub, just don't expect them to split your check! Cheers!!

Spam Blogging

I've backed off blogging a bit lately because unfortunately my blog has been flagged as a spam blog by google. Apparently this can happen when a blog has a lot of links to other sites. If you visit Wikipedia (not going to post a link because that would be spam blogging) you can read all about blogging and spam.

In fact references to each other's blogs can be called a "mutual admiration" blog society. So my links to other bloggers and vice versa are being interpreted by Google's anti-spam robots as spamming. We are all writing about a pretty arcane subject, to the rest of the world at least. Articles about Revit stuff to most people is little more than gibberish unfortunately.

They (Google) don't make it impossible to blog but it is tedious because every time I want to post or just save I have to enter a nearly indiscernable series of text from a randomly generated image. I find some of them really hard to read and end up trying a few times before I get them correct. Very tedious and takes the "fun" out of trying to post an article pretty quickly. Which is why I posted this instead of the actual article I was working on.

To me this points out how hard it is for a computer to really evaluate content. The "robots" are too ignorant to be able to "see" that I've been blogging about this subject for over three years and have been doing nearly exactly the same thing the whole time. I suppose a spam blogger is consistent and patient too but I'm too ignorant or impatient to consider trying to make money by spamming. I don't even put adsense on this soooo isn't about the money....

Sooo...if you are a blogger too, be careful about the number of links you create that point to other sites else you'll get flagged too. Perhaps a reason to move my blog to another tool like Typepad or Wordpress and host it myself? I thought I'd explain my inactivity at least.

Dept. of Subtle - Filter Parameter in Tags (really subtle)

This item is very arcane and until recently just another little mystery to me. While working on the egress family and its tag family that I made and posted about in the past I noticed the following item.

I hadn't noticed it in the past and searched for any information that might be available in the help files. Truthfully I wasn't too surprised when nothing jumped out at me in a few tries at a search. Unfortunately the help files are bit too sparse when it comes to the family editor "secrets".

So I posted a question to the gallant folks at Autodesk and I received this explanation:

“It is used to control which elements are taggable by a multi-category tag family. You can select a shared parameter as the filter parameter, and then when placing a multi-category tag, the tag placement tool will only let you place the tag on elements that contain that parameter (either because the parameter was added to the element’s family or because it was added to the element’s category as a project parameter).”

(My thanks to Steven Campbell and the "unknown" developer who came to my aid!)

This applies to Multi-Category tags. As it applies to my Egress family, this means I can tell Revit to filter for a specific parameter so that my "Multi-Category" tag will only tag "my" family..or any other that I associate that parameter with.